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In a renewed vote of confidence in the Western Australian mining sector, Australia’s largest manufacturer of industrial conveyor belts, Fenner Dunlop today announced a $20 million expansion that will double the existing capacity of its Kwinana Plant.

The plant expansion involves construction of a second press line by 2013 that will increase production capacity to approximately 200,000 metres per annum and boost the company’s workforce by 30 per cent. The decision to undertake the expansion comes only a year after the company’s original $70 million investment to establish the plant and reflects the strength of demand from the Australian resources industry.

The plant is the most technologically advanced of its kind and its conveyor belting products assist companies to increase production from mine sites and improve materials handling at ports in order to increase export capabilities and support their long term growth.

Fenner Dunlop Executive Director, David Landgren said the expansion represents a vote of confidence in the economy and will help expand the capabilities of the local manufacturing sector.

"Mining companies in Western Australia now have the convenience of dealing with a substantial and state-of the-art heavyweight conveyor belt manufacturer in their own backyard,” David said.

"Previously the state’s resources and industrial sector, particularly the iron ore industry, relied on importing a large percentage of the heavyweight steel-reinforced conveyor belting required for their operations.

"Our plant is close to our customers, allowing us to provide a quality product, reducing lead times and keeping investment in the State. We think our location and quality product will also make this plant’s products competitive in the global supply chain for conveyor belts."

Fenner Dunlop recently received approval from The Hon. Chris Bowen, Minister for a labour agreement that allows the company to bring in specialist skills from overseas for a period of three years.

David Landgren said that conveyor belt manufacturing and splicing is a specialised technical skill with formal qualification recognition in the eastern states and, as a registered training organisation, Fenner Dunlop wanted to work with the Western Australian government to embrace the same program to meet the needs of the state’s economy.

"To achieve this goal we need to attract workers with experience in belt splicing from overseas to share their knowledge and undertake training with our existing staff. The labour agreement approved by the Minister allows us to do this and we have now taken the next step and applied for clearance for a range of specialist personnel to join our operations in the near future.”

"As well as growing our workforce by 30 per cent, the expansion at Kwinana will allow us to double our intake of trainees from 36 to 72 per year, so having the skilled personnel to teach trainees is critical.”